A Boy's Own Story (book)

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A Boy's Own Story by Edmund White, originally published in 1982 as the first of Edmund White's trilogy of autobiographical novels, A Boy's Own Story became an instant classic for its pioneering portrayal of homosexuality. The book's unnamed narrator, growing up during the 1950s, is beset by aloof parents, a cruel sister, and relentless mocking from his peers, compelling him to seek out works of art and literature as solace-and to uncover new relationships in the struggle to embrace his own sexuality. Lyrical and poignant, with powerful evocations of shame and yearning, this is an American literary treasure.


  • From amazon.com:
Top Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars
  • Beautifully told literary classic.
By Anon on December 29, 1999
This story is a very beautifully told literary classic. The intimate proximatey of such a well developed character is truly amazing. White tells a wonderful sotry of a gay boy growing up in the 50's--though he never truly accepts it; not until the second book of the series, anyhow.
Warnings: Many people reviewed this book negatively and I wish to use this space to share who will NOT enjoy this book. First of all, you must enjoy the "literary" style of writing; if you don't enjoy classics and works by the likes of John Irving than this is not for you. A fine example is to compare it to J.D. Salenger's "Catcher in the Rye"--if you read this in your schooling years and hated it, you'll probably hate this also. If you like a solid and clear course of plot you may not enjoy it; this book is written much like life is lived, and that is with a degree of chaos. Also, if you are homophonic, this book is obviously not for you unless you are attempting to open your mind. Finally, if you are the type of person who is offended by the unappologetic beliefs of the 50's that homosexuality is an illness, etc., then you may not want to read this; this was an issue with me, but I came to understand that this would be the thought process of someone in the narrators posision at his age and time.
I loved this book, and hope that other readers will expierience the same amazement as I did.
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars
  • An enduring masterwork
  • By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 6, 2000
Edmund White is one of America's finest writers. From his early forays into a then edgey genre of stories that happen to include in depth studies of gay men and their questionable place in the public fabric to his current biographies of famous writers (Proust, et al) to his assessment in literary form of the AIDS crisis and it effect on life in all of America, White has become ever more erudite, polished in technique, and fascinating to explore. Because of this current prominence among gifted writers it is rewarding to return to the early works and see if they contained all the seeds of his success. Having just re-read "A Boy's Own Story" I am even more deeply moved and impressed with White than I remembered. This treasureable book is not just a Pink Triangle groupie read. This is wondrously beautiful writing by all standards. White knows how to make the English linguage sing with acute observations that begin with a keen delineation of line but then blossom fully into metaphors than can only be called poems. These descriptions apply not only to walks in nature or observed qualities of light at varying times of day, but they are used to define his characters in such a vivid manner that they literally step off the page, indelibly.
And the story.....this tale of the grappling of a youth over questions not only of sexuality but of coming of age in social, religious, educational, dream vs reality strikes chords in all of us. His unnamed narrator is in a way the Everyman of Youth. White does not go for the happy Hollywood ending: he writes about the truths of decisions gone awry, dreams dismemebered, realites coming into being. I would hope that "A Boy's Own Story" would be part of the required reading list for the liberal arts schools who care about not only quality of literature but also of complexity of becoming an adult.

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